Organic veg box business Riverford has introduced a zero packaging box in response to customers who want to get rid of packaging altogether (okay, apart from the box).
The new zero packaging box, priced at £15.35, promises ‘no plastic, no punnets, no bags, not even a rubber band – just veg!’ Customers get a ‘colourful mix of eight seasonal organic veg every week, including staples of potatoes, plus carrots or onions’. The only thing in the box except veg will be Riverford’s farm newsletter and seasonal recipes.
Explaining the thinking behind the new ‘zero box’ on the Wicked Leeks blog page, Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson writes: “Few people complain about paper, but our research suggests that it often has a higher carbon footprint than plastic, so we have gone the whole hog and ditched the lot.”
Putting perishable produce, which will be gone in a week, into a plastic punnet which will last a lifetime really should insult our souls
It all sounds great, but lack of protection means no delicate leafy greens such as spinach or salad leaves (hardier greens and lettuces like Cos and Little Gems should be okay), and no cherry tomatoes or mushrooms.
So the question is, will Riverford’s customers be switching to the zero-packaging box in their droves? Watson has his doubts … and hopes. “We made several attempts to offer a 100% UK veg box, but it never amounted to more than 1%t of box sales – until recently. It’s now doing much better at 7%. Perhaps acceptance is growing that ‘one planet living’ requires compromise.”
Watson worries that the new box is ‘just a grandstanding gesture’. But he hopes it will provide the jolt we need to shake up our collective thinking. He quotes Walt Whitman – Re-examine all that you have been told and dismiss that which insults your soul – to make a final point: “Putting perishable produce, which will be gone in a week, into a plastic punnet which will last a lifetime really should insult our souls.”